Thursday, August 25, 2016

Ethan's Famous Love of Barbershop Harmony.

 There are few things Cheryl and I disagree on, ( Ok, perhaps I'm not counting the little things...) but music is one of them.  Oh, sure,  we find "common ground" now and then.  But specifically,  Cheryl is no fan of Barbershop Music.   She  could possibly be lumped into the "I hate it!" category.  But I find the music calming and relaxing.  Music is one of those things that can take you away from your troubled world for a few moments and transport you to a happier time, happier place, or even happier state of being.  I'm understanding though.   I simply despise Country and Rap music.  Everyone has their own taste in music.

So, while looking around the endless YouTube videos, I discovered that I missed out on the 2016 Barbershop finals in August.  ( No matter, I was not going to be able to attend anyway.) I maybe know what you are thinking....Judge me if you must.    I'll take this over any Hank Williams song any day.
First,  Masters of Harmony.

Be sure to check out the build up at 3:11.    Also the finishing chord at 4:26.   What can I say?  It sends shivers...
 The conductor was the lead conductor of the Westminster Chorus during the 2009 chorus of the world win.  Just a bit of trivia...although I'm unfamiliar with how promotions are run in the World of Harmony Choruses.

Next:   A new group to me.  The Voices of Gotham.   This song caught me by surprise.   Who does not love Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory?

Check out 2: 36 into this one to hear the refrain chords. Then later at 3:43.   At first I thought they rushed  through some parts a bit, but later,  after listening to it over and over again...I now deem it intentional and suitable.

So, if you enjoy a good harmony with only male voices and no instruments,  give these two vids a listen.  And hopefully,  they will brighten your day a tad.   Enjoy!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Madison Mini-Marathon Finish!

Chock up another one!
The collection Grows!
 Add another half marathon to the trophy rack!   13.1 more miles in the can!  It was an interesting race today,

Early Start.  Noe the rain!
Preparing for Precipitation!
 Despite the bleak prediction of rain, the rain held off for most of the race.  The day started out wet, however the drizzle stopped moments before the start time and the did not return until we were packing up for home back at the hotel.  In fact, as I speak,  there are blue skies and sunshine here in Iowa.   It looks like Wellman got plenty of rain from the puddles and mud.  But before I get sidetracked,   let's focus back on the race...

Time to get wet....maybe.

A quick visit to the Bathrooms.
Early morning start time with drizzle in the back ground.   Cheryl has been planning for a wet race ever since the first Grandma's Marathon;  and they poor emergency ponchos have been languishing in the glove box ever since.   She was VERY excited to be able to pull them out and actually use them.  ( You can actually see her excitement!)

So excited, she can barely contain it!

Lose the Poncho, check the Garmin.
But moments after we arrived at the start line,  the rain stopped and the heat picked up.  Time to lose the Ponchos!  It was a strange thing.  The clouds hid the sun for most of the day, but the heat and high humidity stuck around for the entire race!   It did not cool down until we were packing up the car.   And then, along with the cool air, came the wind!  Luckily the race was over for Cheryl before she had to battle that challenge.   As it was,  the heat and humidity were plenty.
No mascot captures this year.

So, with bathroom breaks and national anthem out of the way,  the race began.   I was a little bummed that I was unable to capture any race shots this time.  The new camera has it's own identity... and taking action sport shots is not one of them.   Not that it mattered much.   Cheryl ran past me so quickly,  I probably would have had trouble capturing her with the old camera.  I finally gave up and decided to record her with video.  With only moderate success.
Cheryl's elbow...behind the blue guy

Wanna see?   Check out how she blows past me at the 30 second mark.  (look for the guy with the green shirt,  Cheryl is hidden behind the lady in the purple-ish top.   Don't feel too bad if you miss her the first time;   she's a blur!)  At 30 seconds,  she is in the lower right corner wearing orange shorts and turquoise top.
 The video quality is crap compared to the original... Hmm,  Guess blogger does not like videos much.

Cheryl rounds the corner to the finish.
Finally a still shot that turned out.
At the finish,  I managed to capture a couple of stills before she raced past me.   Her final time was 1 hour 47 minutes.   She averaged an 8:12 minute per mile pace.  Not her best, but the heat, rain, and job are all factors.  On the brighter note:   She did say she had a good time running and felt like she was running well,  until she saw the time.  Ah, but how time seems to always  ruin everything.....

Time to hang out by the water
And show off the medal.
Afterwards,  we collected the beer and finishers medal  ( not in that order); and sat around swapping stories, drinking beer and feeding the imaginary fish and ducks near the water.  We sat next to the bandstand as they read off the winners and age group awards.

And drink the beer!

And hear about the "winners" 
 Cheryl did not win any...but informed me that she did manage to place 12th in her age group.   (Which sounds good on a blog, but I guess that is about as good as finishing next to last...So she tells me.)  

Cheryl offers a bribe.
Hiro displays his disappointment
Upon arriving home,  the cat was a little upset with us for leaving him cooped up inside for a day and a half.  From the looks of it,  the squirrels and birds must have had a heyday wit the feeders.  Both of them were empty.   I filled them up while Cheryl bribed the cat with a Boston Creme cake slice.  Hiro seemed interested in just the creme frosting.
Hiro inspects he offer...

Takes a sniff...

So,  Cheryl gets to add another medal to her growing list of successes ( and semi- successes)  in the world of running.  She thinks that this year's medals are fewer than she had hoped, but at least some of the medals have ulterior uses that come in handy from time to time.
And then a taste.   Bribe accepted!

These medals come in handy
If only Cheryl would use them properly
Speaking of beer,  we managed to purchase a fine sampling of the local brews that are not found here in Iowa.   I can't wait to try them all!   The one I had last night was very nice.  I guess the Germans are good for  a few things after all.  ( I can say that, because I'm part German.....The bad half)

Lift and pull...lift and pull!
Hope everyone is having a great weekend so far and if you happen on a good German beer from Wisconsin,  I would recommend giving it a go.  you never know where you may discover your next newest favorite beer.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Madison Mini-Marathon Check In...

This way to the Expo!
Cheryl sizes up the shoes...
Here we are in Wisconsin,  alive and well.   The Travel time was just a few minutes past annoying, but we did not have to swap drivers or experience driver burnout.  That being said,   after three and a half hours driving....( ok,  a little over 4 hours with bathroom breaks included) We are both a little exhausted.
Cheryl remembers those Chairs

Waiting for the Packets
I'm not sure why, but I seem to remember last year's event going slightly more smoothly than this year.   We first had a little trouble trying to find parking.   And then we ended up walking about 3/4ths of a mile to the Expo.

Cheryl makes sure papers are in order.
Time to see what the Packet contains.
The Expo and registration was in the Student Union for University of Wisconsin.  After checking in and getting the packet,  we checked out the merchandise to see if there was anything Cheryl could add to her arsenal of running gear.
Checking out the Merchandise

Cheryl thinks it is a little too big.

They did have a pretty cool shirt with the names of the people who were running the race this year.   unfortunately,  Cheryl felt it was too big for her and that she most likely would never wear it.  But it was cool to see her name on one of the shirts.

But this shirt literally has her name on it!
Pizza with lots of Wisconsin Cheese!
After that,  we climbed down the stairs to the food court,   We sampled a slice of veggie-pizza and  some cheesy french bread.   Yumm!

Checking out the school market
We noticed that the dairy products were all produced locally.   Meaning:   there on campus!   This should not be much of a surprise, as MSU also had the food science building supply all of the ice-cream, milk and cheese for the campus and city of East Lansing.  It also makes sense since this is WISCONSIN!   The Dairy capitol of the country.
Milk produced on campus.

Along with Ice-cream and cheese.
Heading back to the Hotel
So we have finally checked in to the hotel room and purchased our Wisconsin beer for the return trip.   Cheryl tried on her race shirt to make sure it fit properly and looks good.   Now, the only thing left is to post this blog entry and get some rest.  Looks like thunderstorms pretty much all during the race and even into the afternoon.  Good news if you need to keep cool while you are running.   Bad news if the lightning cancels the race.  Also,  the forecast called for the temps to hover in the 70's.   That is still a little warm for a race,  but perhaps the drizzle will counter it enough for Cheryl to endure it. We shall see.
The Official Race Shirt.

Rain and thunder predicted.   Might be fun!
The weather this year has just been kind of dud.   Mostly wet and hot all summer long.   These is not the most fun conditions for running....or even biking for that matter.   Heck,  I don't even like walking outside when the weather is 80+ degrees with a 90% humidity.  I'm hoping this fall can somehow compensate for the last few months of hostile weather.   I'm sure Cheryl would appreciate it if the conditions for Chicago improved as well.  Fingers crossed...and wish us all luck for tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Midweek Hump Day. On the Twilight Of the CollegeBoard Field Test

The Scoring gig is almost over!   One more day for me....  A couple more for Cheryl.  And then we are DONE!

I probably should not sound overly excited about that,  but this project seems to have been going on for a long time and Cheryl is ready for a break.   I'm ready as well,  even though I have not worked as long or as hard as she has these past few months.  Being burned out at the end of each day is not my idea of fun.  Oh, Sure!   The money is nice.    But with the constant Subaru repairs and traveling back and forth to Iowa city in the heat of the morning,   I think everyone on Team Allenbrite  (including Subie!) could use a time out.

So,  what shall we do with our bleak prospects, new found time, and limited resources?    Well,  Cheryl has a race coming up this weekend!   The Madison Half Marathon!  We are both looking forward to it.

Preparing to Write...again!
I'm trying to warm up my writing fingers with a mid-week blog post.   However, as mentioned before,  the full days of scoring are exhausting and I'll try to keep this one short.  There will be plenty of time later on in the coming months to flex my writer's muscle.  (i.e. My Brain....  I think) So I hope everyone who checks in is having a great week so far.    Only two days left until the weekend....and in our case,  the race!  Wish us luck!

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Bringing Bearing and Butterflies To The Blog

A New wheel bearing
A little alliteration always spices up the blog from time to time. Why not have some fun!

An "Old" wheel bearing.  i.e Mine!
So,  we went for the rear wheel bearing replacement via professionals for Subie yesterday.  Meaning:  I left if to the "real" mechanics.  The place we go to was great in fitting us in on a Friday with no appointment.  And,   best of all,  they had it done by the afternoon.   We had a full day of scoring at College board yesterday, so we hardly even noticed the car missing.

 the "bearing" is missing in this one
WHAT A DIFFERENCE!   I'm not entirely sure how long we had been living with that bearing noise.  All I know is the Subster  is so quiet now that I think THAT is a new problem.   It just does not seem normal that our car could be so quiet.   Cheryl informed me that Subie can not break anymore for the rest of the year.  AND   She also told me to stop talking about "phantom" car problems.  Regardless if they are real or imaginary.  That is what the blog is for.

All these parts.  Call the Pros on this one!
So the Mechanic said the bearing came out in "parts" and "Pieces".  Meaning either it was made up or numerous small parts...  Or it was totally shot and the small bearings came out in  even smaller parts  than originally designed.  After watching the videos on how the bearing is "pressed" together,  I imagine it is a little bit of both.  There was no way I was going to be able to work on this job and feel confident about it.
Hiro Stands Guard in the Front yard.

Female Tiger Swallowtail
Other than that,  our time at college board is coming to a close.    Next week is our last week,  and we have a half marathon coming up that Saturday. ( A week from today.)  The money might be tight, but at least I have a certain level of confidence that the Subie will get us there.

While prepping to write this entry,  I had the rare opportunity to capture a few "moments" in our front yard.  Even though we have flowers by our front window,  and even though it is not "uncommon" for butterflies and other colorful creatures to visit them;   it is VERY rare that I happen to have the camera handy when an  opportunity presents itself.

She likes the purple flowers best.
Notice the two rows of yellow dots on Hindwings.
Behold!   The Tiger Swallowtail....Black Female Version!   Very rare indeed!   Allow me to pull out my Lepidopterous hat and explain.
Tiger Swallowtail Common form
 The Tiger Swallowtail butterfly is usually a large butterfly with tails on its hind wings.  They are easily identified by their bright yellow colors with black "tiger" stripes.  However,  one of the common phenomenons about butterflies is their ability to mimic things.  First as eggs,  then as larvae.   But sometimes they even mimic other butterflies!

Pipevine Swallowtail  ( poisonous)
So,  the female Tiger Swallowtail butterfly has a built in recessive gene that allows it to take the colors of a Pipevine Swallowtail ( they are poisonous)  or a Spicebush ( they are bitter tasting, I think)  so that, in the event a bird decides that tiger swallowtail butterflies are the latest "healthy food" fad,  and begins targeting them for dinner,  the species will live on because a few of the females will look COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the species norm.  Pretty cool! Eh?
She was very nice to pose for me.  I even got to pet her.

I guess I will never lose that Biologist side of myself.   Life is a pretty cool subject, after all.  Hope everyone is having a great weekend so far.  Perhaps the little posting will enhance your Trival Pursuit game someday.   The topic Can be confusing as there are often MANY overlapping and parallel  ties that connect butterflies.   So many I do not want to make this posting any longer than it has to be.    But, what can I say.  I love bugs  ( most of them) and Subarus    Even if the love is one sided most of the time.


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